Last night, after work, we have a friend over to watch movies and eat snacks with us. A typical lazy night, except that this is a particular friend: someone I've had a gigantic crush on for years every time I come up here.
And it is so so lovely: I play him a new tune, we all laugh our heads off at the movies, he and I sit together in the growing dark on the same couch for about 3 hours, we walk some of the way home together (I'm house-sitting), and never do we run out of things to talk about because we never do. Even though we do nothing at the end of our walk together but say "good night" and walk away I am in a daze afterwards, like someone who's drunk too much champagne.
But when I'm back in the Panabode kitchen talking to my best friend about him this morning and I say half-joking, "I wish I didn't have such a crush on him," she replies kindly "I wish you didn't either. Because he's a really nice guy and he's fun to hang out with, but I was watching his body language with you and I don't think he's interested." And the truth that was floating around my head in a big ugly bubble pops with an ugly splat and tears spring into my eyes. "It's okay, we'll wear him down, we'll keep inviting him over..." my friend says, still so kind, and I say sadly "I don't want to wear anyone down" and then although I try to stop them, the tears come for real.
This is the same friend who held me and comforted me and talked me through a horribly stressful breakup last summer and I know she loves me and wishes me nothing but happiness and love, fluffy kittens and unicorns; I know that she is fiercely sad on my behalf: why wouldn't he like you, he's crazy not to! I also know that she is not the Oracle and that she may be wrong, but my instincts tell me that, at least for now, she is rightrightright and it hurts, just like it hurts every time. The only things that make it better are the old standbys Age and Experience, who tell me to suck it up, enjoy my friends who love me in spite of my faults, enjoy my work, which is basically getting paid to sing and be a goofball, enjoy my health and strength; enjoy this moment and the moment after it and keep breathing and sleeping well and distracting myself until the pain of not being noticed, of not being visible to someone, dies down again. And even shittier is having to distance myself from someone I really genuinely like and love to talk to, an intoxicating (to me) combination of smart and silly, all because I can't just be happy with friends instead of lovers.
My 21-year-old roommate is far wiser than me. "Stop having so many expectations," he counsels the lovelorn ladies of the Panabode, we who variously mourn our limited prospects in this small town. He already knows more than us: that it's best to accept whatever happens; that if you want too much you run the risk of losing it all. He isn't the first person to tell me this; the last one was my latest ex, as he and I watched our fragile relationship drown under the weight of all those expectations I had.
So, I guess I stop trying. It's not possible to turn off the wanting, but it is possible to stop banging my head against this particular brick wall over and over again. My young friend recently stopped a long-distance (and very new and uncertain) relationship because he was finding that the constant pining for something he couldn't have was preventing him from enjoying the experience of being here. If he's smart enough to focus on the here and now, I hope I can be too. I'll sleep long and well tonight, wake up feeling more like myself tomorrow. I'll take the pain of not being special to someone, and put it into our afternoon show, into a character who knows that all too well. And I'll keep finding the joy in everything I do, because to do otherwise would be to give away my power.